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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on March 20, 2019

Q: Yesterday President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan resigned. As a close neighbor of Kazakhstan, how does China see this news? Will this affect China-Kazakhstan relations? What is your opinion about Nazarbayev's role in developing the relationship between the two countries?

A: President Nazarbayev, founder of the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a state leader highly esteemed and deeply loved by his fellow countrymen. China understands his decision.

Since diplomatic ties were established between China and Kazakhstan 27 years ago, President Nazaybayev has dedicated himself to nurturing the friendship between the two countries and promoting the comprehensive strategic partnership. He has supported and actively participated in the Belt and Road cooperation. China highly commends what he has done.

President Tokayev who has just sworn in is an old friend and good friend that the Chinese people are familiar with. China hopes and believes that Kazakhstan will continue to make new achievements in its national development. As a friend, China wishes Kazakhstan greater prosperity.

As neighbors, China and Kazakhstan are important to each other. Our bilateral relations are delivering high-quality performance. Deepening the all-round cooperation serves the common interests of both countries and is the consensus of people from all walks of life. China has every confidence in the prospects of our relationship and cooperation.

Q: Do you have any information on when US-China trade talks will start next week?

A: I would like to refer you to the Ministry of Commerce for this question.

What I can tell you is that the recent consultations between the economic and trade teams of China and the US have made substantive progress. We believe that the two teams will follow the instructions of the two heads of state and reach a mutually beneficial agreement on the basis of mutual respect.

Q: US Assistant Secretary of State Poblete said on March 19 that China and Russia are stepping up efforts to develop ground-launch anti-satellite weapons, which raises the risk of conflict in space and makes it's hard to believe that the two countries are serious about preventing an arms race in outer space. How could you comment this?

A: Outer space belongs to all mankind and it is the shared responsibility of the international community to uphold outer space security. China has remained committed to the peaceful use of outer space and advocated the prevention of placement of weapons and an arms race in outer space. We have been promoting the draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects (PPWT) along with Russia at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva over the years. china has never participated and will never participate in any form of arms race in outer space, and this position remains unchanged.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the US has described outer space as a new war-fighting domain and established the Space Command. It is building a space force and planning to deploy laser weapons in outer space. It's so evident who is exacerbating the risk of weaponizing the outer space, turning it into a battlefield and posing threats to outer space security. While going ahead with its military buildup in outer space, the US is cooking up the so-called threat from China and Russia in outer space, trying to seek pretexts to pursue unilateral military advantage and develop advanced weapons. The false accusations against China by the US are entirely untenable and China will not accept them. If the US side truly cares about the security of outer space, it should work with China and Russia and actively participate in the arms control process of outer space instead of doing the opposite.

Q: Regarding the resignation of Kazakhstan's president, does China fear that other leaders in this country could affect the bilateral and economic ties between the two countries, especially when it concerns the Belt and Road Initiative?

A: As I said earlier, China highly commends President Nazaybayev's efforts to promote our comprehensive strategic partnership. The newly sworn-in President Tokayev is an old friend and good friend of the Chinese people. China hopes and believes that Kazakhstan will continue to make new achievements in its national development. As a friend, China wishes Kazakhstan greater prosperity.

Our bilateral relations are delivering high-level performance. Kazakhstan is a staunch supporter and active participant in the Belt and Road Initiative. Bilateral cooperation under this framework has yielded fruitful results. We have every confidence in the prospects of our relationship and cooperation, including the cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Q: We noted that some Western countries have voiced misgivings about China-Africa cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative. For instance, some argue that China is investing in Djibouti under the BRI to expand its global influence and that such practices will harm the economy of Djibouti. Some claim that the Mombasa-Nairobi railway built with Chinese investment in Kenya will incur debt burdens to the country. How would you respond to these opinions?

A: When answering a similar question on Monday, I stated clearly that such accusations are based on anything but facts and will find no audience at all in Africa. It is the African people who are in the best position to judge the effects of cooperation projects between China and Africa.

Since you mentioned Djibouti and Kenya, I would like to share some latest information on these two countries. According to recent reports, Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Djibouti, said he was satisfied with the progress of strategic partnership with China, and appreciated China's long-term friendly help. President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya said that in recent years, Kenya and China share an even closer relationship, with tighter cooperation across a whole range of areas from industry to infrastructure. The Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, one of the region's most ambitious infrastructure projects, has brought enormous changes to Kenyan people's lives. China appreciates such fair judgments by the leaders of Djibouti, Kenya and many other countries and people of insight in Africa.

As an old Chinese saying goes, "When there's no trouble, some worry about troubles of their own imagining." Some people seem to be worrying sick about China-Africa cooperation. Won't they get exhausted?

Let me stress again, whatever these people may say or think, the deep mutual trust, time-tested solid friendship and fruitful cooperation between China and Africa are simply plain facts. Guided by the principle of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith, and pursuing the greater good and shared interests, China will continue to enhance practical cooperation with Africa in various fields under the BRI and earnestly advance implementation of the outcomes reached at the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit and the consensus of our leaders, to move forward the China-Africa comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation. We hope more countries will truly care for Africa, attach importance and increase input to this continent, and join hands with China to contribute to its peace, stability, development and prosperity.

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